Musings from the Manse 7 March 2021

Musings from the Manse

The reading I am musing on today, like last week’s, takes place during that final supper Jesus and the disciples shared. Jesus has spoken about himself as the Way, Truth and Life; he has encouraged his disciples not to despair, and to believe in God the Father, and in Jesus himself. Now, Jesus takes a new direction, a new “I am” saying, a new hint at who he is, and who we are as his followers.

‘I am the True Vine and my Father is the vine-grower,’ he says. In saying this, he uses an image found in the Hebrew Scriptures so familiar to his early disciples, where Israel herself is seen as the vine. Jesus goes further, ‘I am the Vine, you are the branches.’ Those of us who seek to follow God, to deepen our relationship with God, must do so connected to Jesus. Gone is the language of believing, or trusting from the previous chapter, now Jesus calls us to abide – to abide in the Father and in Jesus, God’s Son. Now, Jesus’ life isn’t just to be a way to follow, but it will be the source of our life and growth.
We hear this image of the Vine each year at our covenant service and it is important not just for understanding who Jesus is, but in understanding who we are in Jesus. To be a branch on Jesus’ vine is not just to be connected to Jesus, but it is to recognise that we are connected to one another as well.

Our faith isn’t just about our personal relationship with Jesus, but it is also about being part of a wider family – all children of God. We don’t get to choose who the other branches are, but we are called to recognise our connection one with another.

When we choose to remain branches connected to Jesus, the Vine, it is also to seek to bear fruit. In so many places in the Bible we see that the greatest fruit we are to desire is to love. In his parable that we call the Good Samaritan, Jesus makes clear that to love our neighbour means to love those we encounter who are in need, regardless of whether they are like us or not. What is more, it is a practical love that seeks the best for them, not just having a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Fairtrade Fortnight, which finishes on Sunday, gives us the opportunity to put that love into action. It reminds us to listen again to stories of those who grow our food and produce our clothes, as we remember those stories may we seek the best for them and put our love into action as we shop by paying a fair price so that they have the resources to develop their communities, can afford education and healthcare, become more resilient in the face of the climate crisis. How we shop, and the effect that has on our neighbours around the world, isn’t something separate from our lives of faith, but is a central element to how we show love of neighbour and love of God.
Seeking to abide in Christ the True Vine is to draw strength from Christ – to be nourished by his words and his Spirit so that we may blossom and produce fruits that will transform our world. This Lent, may we seek to be nourished by Christ in order that we may love like Christ. May the vision for who we should love not be limited by artificial national boundaries, but may we remember that it was because God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, to be our Vine, the source of our life and strength.

 

Rev Nik Wooller

7th March 2021

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